When I brought Duplo home from the hospital, almost two years ago, he wouldn’t go to sleep the first afternoon. He’d been awake for a while and had eaten, and I was reasonably sure he was comfortable. The more tired he got, the more fussy he got. I tried nursing again, since that had always put Lego to sleep, but Duplo didn’t want to nurse. I tried holding him tightly swaddled and rocking him, but he fought me. I tried snuggling quietly on the couch. He screamed. After maybe an hour or trying to get him to go to sleep, I was feeling really fried and frustrated. I knew I needed a short breather before trying again, so I put him in his swing to cry while I went in my bedroom with the door shut for a minute or two.
He quieted almost immediately, and went to sleep within three minutes. That’s the first time I realized that this baby definitely had a different personality from Lego’s. Duplo has always been the kind of person who just wants to be left alone to go to sleep, and I’m glad I learned it early. Whereas I’d spent months trying to get Lego to learn to self-settle, Duplo was doing it within days of birth. When he was tired, I’d just put him in his crib with a pacifier and leave the room. It almost seemed too easy, like I was supposed to have to train a kid to do this, rather than just let him do it because he wanted to.
There was a period of about four months where the only way to get him to sleep was to hold a pacifier in his mouth and not let him spit it out, hold him very tight in the cook of your arm, and basically keep him in that death grip until he closed his eyes for a few minutes, then transfer him to bed. I think the problem then was that he was becoming more aware of how much fun the world was, and he needed a firm hand to make him stop having fun and start sleeping. The problem was, at about seven or eight months of age, he stopped liking the pacifier and refused to take it. It was a rough month as we tried to figure out how to get him to sleep without it. Finally, he learned to do what he’d done at birth: just go to sleep himself in his crib. Now, when it’s bedtime or naptime, I just say, “Time for bed, Duplo,” take him in his room, turn off the light, put him in his crib with pillow, blanket, and sometimes a sippy of water, tell him goodnight, and leave the room. He never cries even a little, unless he truly isn’t tired yet, which isn’t often. Nowadays I’m grateful to have two boys who are such good sleepers.